Tuesday – building a discovery research plan

tough call to do because there is so much to do

Tuesday’s challenge was to prepare a research plan for the discovery phase of my project. We’ve got some pointers from earlier research, of where to go and look, which is great, but building a plan is still a challenge. 

We don’t know what we don’t know. And we won’t know our discovery has the full picture until we are not finding out anything new, until we’ve reached what we call saturation. But a research plan that aims for saturation is as long a piece of string. Something that will not get you budget or buy in and definitely won’t work for stakeholders who want to see something built and delivered ASAP. 

The opposite is deciding what you want to look at and who you want to talk to upfront. This risks both missing the wider context or insights from other participants that might give a different perspective and poor decisions based on blinkered knowledge. 

This is where agile with a strong user centred design focus can help us out. We go discover for a while. Not the whole picture, but enough to see a shape starting to emerge. And then we go design and experiment to see if we have something that works. 

Like research, like software development, like writing. By the end of the day, the research plan was ready for it’s first outing and experimental reading by the team while I looked forward to a few days out of the office. 

Friday – windswept by the Atlantic Ocean

Friday was time out, walking on the Atlantic surf beaches of Guincho to the west of Lisbon, Portugal. 

With the change of season the waves were untroubled by wetsuits and boards, leaving them only unwary paddlers to play with. Who hasn’t been teased with ankle lapping foam that’s then swelled to thigh deep in seconds? After being caught by one such wave and running, pulling my shorts up as high as they would go, I wondered for how many millennia have humans been playing chicken with the waves this way, stepping in as far as you dare before running, laughing away from the sea? 

So simple. So fun. So mind clearing. 

Sunday – Bom Dia Lisboa

Coffee, porridge, warm clothes and a gnaw of adrenaline powered my pre-dawn walk. As I the minutes passed, gradually, quietly, more runners joined the movement towards the hippodrome where the race would start just after dawn. 

The first 12km was an out and back into the national park on the Atlantic coast so we ran away from the sunrise, but it caught us up soon enough.

The rest of the route was along the N6, along beach front with occasional curves into town centres, all the way to Lisbon. It was a beautiful undulating route with a sea breeze that gave some welcome relief from the unfamiliar 20 degree sunshine. 

Sadly, the race didn’t go quite to plan. A seized quad and calves in sympathy meant I had to walk-run some of it but I finished the last few km feeling strong and recovered quickly afterwards. A positive end and something to work on for next time.

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